If you read a lot of food blogs, I’m going to guess you’ve heard about Kim Boyce’s cookbook Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours.
It won Food52’s Piglet—their annual cookbook competition. Deb at Smitten Kitchen has blogged about it multiple times. Molly’s post about the Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies was almost enough to make me forgo my own recipe. And Luisa, oh Luisa—she edited the book, which in itself should’ve been enough for me to run out and buy it. But no, I hesitated. I have no room for more cookbooks, I thought. I can’t afford to run out and buy a dozen obscure whole grain flours. Whine whine whine. And then Stephanie at Wasabimon held a giveaway. Of Good to the Grain. So of course I entered—why not? And miracle of miracles, I won.
I brought the book to bed with me, sighing over the exquisite photographs, aching to rush into the kitchen and try something. But somehow the book got buried—the stack of magazines next to the bed is impressive, daunting, scary even. The other day I finally started to plow through the magazines, and what do you know? There in a back-issue of Whole Living was an article about the book. By Luisa herself. I took it as a sign and dashed off a quick email to her, asking her to recommend a recipe to try first. She mentioned several, but when she wrote, “the herbed flatbreads have my heart,” that was it. I rushed out and bought amaranth flour ($10!), and made them yesterday.
The herbed flatbreads have won another heart.
Please, spend $10 on a bag of flour. Try these. They’re pillowy, mellow, chewy, salty, oily in that lick-your-fingers-good way. You’ll have a hard time not eating them one at a time, directly from the pan. Plus, think how fun it’ll be to show your kids this magical transformation:
Very slightly adapted from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours
Weight Watchers: Each flatbread is 5 PointsPlus
Olive oil for the bowl
1 package active dry yeast (I used 1 3/4 teaspoons of instant yeast)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup amaranth flour
3 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for kneading and dusting
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Olive oil for brushing (I measured out 1 tablespoon and used it very sparingly)
1 pinch or two per flatbread of dried herbs, ground cumin, chile pepper, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or other spices, to taste
Kosher or sea salt
- Lightly oil a large bowl to proof the dough in (I used a mister).
- If you’re using active dry yeast, put it in another large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, along with 1 1/2 cups warm water (no hotter than 110°F) and the honey. Stir it together and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it bubbles—and if it doesn’t, your yeast may be past its prime; throw it out & start over. If you’re using instant yeast, just put the yeast, honey, water, flours, and salt into the bowl all at once and start mixing.
- If you’re using a stand mixer, as I did, the next part is really simple—turn the mixer on low until it comes together as a dough, then switch the paddle attachment for the dough hook and let it go for 5 minutes. Making it by hand? Get those arms ready: Once the dough comes together in the bowl, scrape it out on to a generously floured surface and knead, knead, knead for five minutes, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking—it should remain soft and tacky. This is fun for kids, so invite them to help.
- Form the dough into a ball and place into the oiled bowl. Cover and set aside until it’s doubled in size, about 2 hours (when you poke the dough, a dimple should remain).
- After it’s doubled, fold the dough over and deflate it gently, forming it back into a ball. Put it smooth-side up and cover again. Let it rise for another 90 minutes.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface (I use a silicone mat for this—it requires much less extra flour). Divide it into 10 equal parts—no need to weigh it, since these are rustic. Eyeballing it is enough. Place an 8- or 10-inch cast-iron pan over medium heat. Put your olive oil with brush, choice of topping, and salt into small bowls and put them nearby—if your work surface is far from the stove, put some at both places. Put a cooling rack next to the stove.
- Pull out one piece of dough, and cover the rest. Roll it into a rough circle, small enough to fit inside the pan (it won’t stretch much past 7 or 8 inches, so you probably don’t need to worry). Brush it lightly with oil and sprinkle with the toppings. Carefully pick up the dough and drape it over your palm, then flip it over into the hot pan, oiled side down.
- While it’s cooking, work quickly: brush the top with oil and sprinkle with toppings, then begin to roll out the next piece of dough. You’ll be dashing back and forth a lot, so be prepared! Keep an eye on the pan, and when the dough is bubbling madly like in the video above, flip it over—I used tongs and it worked quite well. Finish prepping the next piece of dough. When the second side is cooked (the bubbles will be blackened, while the parts that don’t touch the pan no longer look raw), remove it to the cooling rack.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, and eat right away.
MAKE BABY FOOD: If you’re on finger foods, this is fine as is—just cut it up.